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Choosing Between a Secured and Unsecured Credit Card

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Credit cards can be found in nearly every wallet and purse in America, so most small business owners with good credit already have access to that type of financing. But what can you do as an entrepreneur if your credit score isn’t the greatest? Should you get a secured credit card? Read on to learn the difference between unsecured and secured credit cards and which one is right for your business’s situation.

What is a secured credit card versus an unsecured credit card?

Since their inception in the 1950s, credit cards have been a common payment method for most Americans. In fact, a report by WalletHub using data from the U.S. Census Bureau and Nilson Report found that there were approximately 1.12 billion credit cards in the U.S. as of 2018. By 2023, that number is expected to go up to nearly 1.3 billion.

The report also estimated that the average number of credit cards per U.S. adult was just over three in 2019, with an average total balance of $6,629. And while Experian estimates that the country had approximately $830 billion in credit card debt in 2019, most of that is held through unsecured credit cards. [Read related article: Do You Need a Small Business Credit Card?]

The difference between a secured and unsecured credit card

On a very basic level, the major difference between these types of cards is that a secured credit card requires some sort of monetary deposit to act as collateral, while an unsecured credit card doesn’t. An unsecured card generally has lower interest rates and higher credit limits, while a secured card can serve as a way for people with bad credit to boost their credit scores.

Unsecured credit cards: The common option

If you have a credit card right now, the odds are extremely high that it’s unsecured. While the term “unsecured” may sound risky for you as a consumer, it more accurately describes the risk that the card’s issuer has taken on, since it acts similarly to an unsecured bank loan and does not require a deposit or other form of collateral.

Without the additional assurance of collateral from you, the terms of an unsecured credit card depend largely on your credit history. If you apply with a good credit score, you’ll be more likely to get a higher credit limit, more favorable interest rates and additional perks, like travel miles and cash back. However, if you have a lower credit score and you try to get a credit card, the opposite will be true: You’ll receive a smaller credit limit, higher interest rates and little or no additional perks – if you get approved at all. What determines a “good” score and what constitutes a “bad” score vary among the three credit bureaus: Equifax, TransUnion and Experian, though a score in the 700 range is typically considered a good place to start.

Rather than receive collateral to protect their investment, banks and credit card issuers reduce their risk by leveraging their ability to punitively affect your credit file if you regularly miss payments or overcharge your account.

In most instances, delinquent accounts are reported to the credit bureaus, resulting in a decrease in your overall credit score. Such an infraction on your record is considered a major issue to other creditors and remains on your file for years as a red mark for why you should be denied additional credit or loans.

Other courses of action for credit card issuers and delinquent accounts include taking your account to collections, seeking wage garnishments to offset their losses or filing a lawsuit against you. [Read related article: The Pros and Cons of Financing a Startup with Credit Cards]

Secured credit cards: The safe option for creditors

While unsecured credit cards pose a potential risk for card issuers, secured credit cards come with some assurances baked in at the expense of the borrower. Unlike an unsecured credit card, a secured credit card requires the cardholder to make a cash deposit that the credit card company holds as collateral.

That deposit usually sits in the $200 to $300 range and will act as the card’s available credit limit. Naturally, a higher deposit will yield a larger credit limit. This deposit is a one-time cost to the borrower that can be refunded once they’ve either proved their ability to maintain the account in good standing or the account is closed.

Because these cards are backed by collateral, banks and credit card issuers are more likely to approve applications for all kinds of users, including people with no credit or low credit scores. As a result, these cards are generally seen as a safe, yet slow way to build a credit score. [Read related article: Opening a Business Account When You Have Bad Credit]

“If you miss a payment on a secured credit card, the money is simply taken out of your security deposit, and the missed payment is not reflected on your credit report,” said Michael Broughton, co-founder and CEO of Perch. “If you do carry a balance, interest will be incurred, and the balance will be reported to the bureaus just as it would with an unsecured card. Using a secured credit card can help some build their credit in as little as six months.”

Like unsecured credit cards, unpaid bills result in punitive actions that could lower your credit score. A late payment usually comes with an additional fee before getting a higher interest rate tacked on. The longer your payment is past due, the higher your rate will go, until the card is closed and you lose your deposit. Eventually, the account will be sent to collections, at which point your assets could be in jeopardy.

What are the benefits and drawbacks of secured and unsecured credit cards?

Aside from their collateral requirements, unsecured and secured credit cards come with their own inherent benefits and drawbacks. In the case of both cards, you can potentially raise your credit score by diligently making your payments on time, though the other side of that statement is also true. Both cards also give you access to capital that you didn’t already have on hand, and both prove your creditworthiness in some way.

And while the two credit card types share some benefits, they also share downsides. For instance, both card types can lead to collections agencies getting involved if your account is unpaid by 120 days, though if that happens, both card types will have negatively impacted your credit score well before then. Additionally, both unsecured and secured credit cards can require a “hard pull” on your credit file when you apply for a card, resulting in a potential hit to your score. This issue is somewhat less likely to happen with secured cards, since they require collateral.

Though unsecured cards generally have lower interest rates, they can still be quite high. As previously mentioned, average rates can be upward of 20%. If you’re making just the minimum monthly payment with a high APR, you’re likely not making much of a dent in your principal. Likewise, if you’re not paying off your card in full each month, a high APR means you’ll pay more than the initial cost of whatever you purchased with the card.

Benefits of an unsecured card

As unsecured cards are the most common type of credit card, you’re likely already familiar with many of their advantages. Here are some of the pluses of using an unsecured credit card responsibly:

Lower APR. If you have an unsecured credit card, it’s likely that you have a decent credit score. As a result, a bank or credit card issuer will feel more comfortable offering you a lower interest rate. Because a lower interest rate means your monthly payments will be smaller, it serves as an incentive to continue using the card. With a lower rate, you can continue to build credit by stretching your limit a little further.

Though unsecured cards’ interest rates are generally lower if you have a good credit score, the rates are still often higher than those for most small business or personal bank loans, averaging between 15.53% and 22.76%, U.S. News reported.

Higher credit limits. Again, because you likely have a reasonable credit score, you will likely be trusted with a higher borrowing amount. With an increased credit limit, you instantly gain access to bigger-ticket purchases without fear of getting too close to that limit.

A larger credit limit also affects your overall credit utilization ratio, which is the amount of credit available to the user versus the amount of debt they’ve incurred. Credit bureaus use your utilization ratio as a metric to see how responsible you are with your credit. A higher percentage of credit used may indicate to lenders that you’re a costly and potentially risky borrower.

More card options. As this is the most common type of credit card, your options vary wildly. Credit cards are issued by so many entities, from national and local banks to individual retailers, that it’s very likely that you can find an unsecured card that fits your needs.

Rewards for using credit cards. Credit card issuers want borrowers to use their cards, since they make money on the interest and any additional credit card fees. One way they often do that is by offering special rewards to their users. If this is a major selling point for you, then be on the lookout for cards that offer cash back, discounts at certain businesses when using the card or travel mileage that can be redeemed for airfare, among other perks.

More frequent reports to credit bureaus. Credit card usage is just one part of your overall credit score, but it’s among the most heavily weighted items. Because your unsecured credit cards represent risk to card issuers, they often report the health of your credit card usage to credit bureaus on a monthly basis. This kind of granular influx of data can help you understand how you’re doing and provide you with ways to improve your score. This can often become a double-edged sword, however, since late and missed payments are also reported frequently.

Drawbacks of an unsecured card

Though an unsecured card has many benefits, there are also some negatives to having or trying to obtain one. Here are some of the drawbacks:

Different requirements for each card. Because unsecured cards are ubiquitous, it’s increasingly rare to find two credit cards that have the same requirements for approval. Credit score requirements vary from issuer to issuer, so whereas one card may require a 580 credit score for consideration, another may demand a score of 700. This kind of variance means you’ll have to do your research about not just your credit score but also what that score needs to be to obtain the card you want.

Added fees. Depending on the type of credit card you use, there may be additional fees baked into your agreement. The most common fee added to an unsecured credit card is an annual “convenience” fee, which can range from $20 to $200. There are enough cards on the market that don’t charge an annual fee, so you can avoid this drawback simply by choosing a card without one. Other fees – like late payment fees, balance transfer fees and cash advance fees – should be expected if you meet the requirements for those fees.

Benefits of a secured card

Though a secured card requires you to deposit money as collateral, this type of card has some unique benefits. Here are some of the advantages:

Refundable deposit. As long as you consistently make payments on your account and eventually pay off the balance in full, your deposit is refunded to you. This can help serve as a goal to keep in mind as you’re using and paying back the card over time.

Credit building. If you have a bad credit score, it will be nearly impossible to get a decent unsecured credit card without exorbitant interest rates and minuscule credit limits. By requiring collateral of some kind, credit card issuers are more likely to approve individuals with bad credit as a way to help them get out of the hole they’ve dug themselves into. In some cases, the secured card can eventually get upgraded to an unsecured card. Keep in mind that a secured card only reports payment history, resulting in a slower climb.

Drawbacks of a secured card

Here are some of the downsides to be aware of before getting a secured credit card:

Required deposit. As previously mentioned, to get a secured credit card, you must make a cash deposit of up to $300. If you need a higher credit limit, you may have to add more money to your deposit.

Smaller credit limits. Credit limits for secured cards are usually just the security deposit you put down. As such, your credit utilization ratio will be much tighter than with an unsecured card.

Additional fees. Like unsecured credit cards, secured cards often have a range of additional fees tacked on, such as monthly maintenance fees, annual upkeep fees or incidentals. These are nonrefundable and can add to the overall cost of the card.

Lack of reporting to credit bureaus. Not all secured credit card issuers report these cards to the three bureaus. If you’re relying on such a card to help build your credit, it’s imperative that you make sure the card issuer reports the account’s activity, since not doing so will make your efforts entirely moot.

Which type should you choose?

When deciding which card you should get, consider where you are in your credit score journey. While an unsecured card may be great if you’re just looking to maintain or increase your already decent credit score, a secured card could help you get out from under a bad or nonexistent score.

“Both secured and unsecured credit cards have their advantages, but the need for each depends mostly on your credit score and your financial goals,” Broughton said. “If you have trouble with qualifying for an unsecured card, a secured card is your best option for credit building through a card.”

While most people will want to obtain an unsecured card, a secured card should most often be considered only if you have zero credit history or your credit score is too low for an unsecured card.

When choosing between the two types of cards, the business owner should consider the current marketplace and potential issues they could face, said Matthew Dailly, managing director of Tiger Financial. “Having a secured credit card could really help to protect them if something comes along which stops their income – COVID-19 being the perfect example.”

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Loans Bad Credit Online – China’s Very Bad Bank: Inside the Huarong Debt Debacle | Fintech Zoom

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Loans Bad Credit Online – China’s Very Bad Bank: Inside the Huarong Debt Debacle

It’s been 11 weeks since Lai Xiaomin, the man once known as the God of Wealth, was executed on a cold Friday morning in the Chinese city of Tianjin.

But his shadow still hangs over one of the most dramatic corruption stories ever to come out of China – a tale that has now set nerves on edge around the financial world.

Photographer: Anthony Kwan/Bloomberg

At its center isChina Huarong Asset Management Co., the state financial company that Lai lorded over until getting ensnared in a sweeping crackdown on corruption by China’s leader, Xi Jinping.

From Hong Kong to London to New York, questions burn. Will the Chinese government stand behind $23.2 billion that Lai borrowed on overseas markets — or will international bond investors have to swallow losses? Are key state-owned enterprises like Huarong still too big to fail, as global finance has long assumed – or will these companies be allowed to stumble, just like anyone else?

The answers will have huge implications for China and markets across Asia. Should Huarong fail to pay back its debts in full, the development would cast doubt over a core tenet of Chinese investment: the assumed government backing for important state-owned enterprises, or SOEs.

“A default at a central state-owned company like Huarong is unprecedented,” said Owen Gallimore, head of credit strategy at Australia & New Zealand Banking Group. Should one occur, he said, it would mark “a watershed moment” for Chinese and Asian credit markets.

Not since the Asian financial crisis of the late 1990s has the issue weighed so heavily. Huarong bonds — among the most widely held SOE debt worldwide — recently fell to a record low of about 52 cents on the dollar. That’s not the pennies on a dollar normally associated with deeply troubled companies elsewhere, but it’s practically unheard of for an SOE.

Time is short. All told, Huarong owes bondholders at home and abroad the equivalent of $42 billion. Some $17.1 billion of that falls due by the end of 2022, according to Bloomberg-compiled data.

Huarong Bonds Tank

It wasn’t supposed to be this way. Huarong was created in the aftermath of the ‘90s Asian collapse to avert another crisis, not cause one. The idea was to contain a swelling wave of bad loans threatening Chinese banks. Huarong was to serve as a “bad bank,” a safe repository for the billions in souring loans made to state companies.

Along with three other bad banks, Huarong swapped delinquent debts for stakes in hundreds of big SOEs and, in the process, helped turn around chronic money-losers like the giant China Petroleum & Chemical Corp.

After Lai took over in 2012, Huarong reached for more, pushing into investment banking, trusts, real estate and positioning itself as a key player in China’s $54 trillion financial industry.

Before long, global banks came knocking. In 2013, for instance, Shane Zhang, co-head of Asia-Pacific investment banking at Morgan Stanley, met with Lai. Zhang said his company was “very optimistic” about the future of Huarong, according to a statement posted on Huarong’s website at the time.

Before Huarong went public in Hong Kong in 2015, it sold a $2.4 billion stake to a group of investors including Warburg Pincus, Goldman Sachs Group Inc., and Malaysia’s sovereign wealth fund. BlackRock Inc. and Vanguard Group acquired lots of stock too, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. The stock has collapsed 67% since its listing.

Lai had no trouble financing his grand ambitions. A big reason: Everyone thought Beijing would always stand behind a key company like Huarong. It easily borrowed money in the offshore market at rates as low as 2.1%. It borrowed still more in the domestic interbank market. Along the way Lai transformed Huarong into a powerful shadow lender, extending credit to companies that banks turned away.

The truth was darker. Lai, a former senior official at the nation’s banking regulator, doled out loans with little oversight from his board or risk management committee.

One Huarong credit officer said Lai personally called the shots on most of the offshore corporate loans underwritten by her division.

Money also flowed to projects disguised as parts of China’s push to build railroads, ports and more around the world – the so-called Belt and Road Initiative, according to an executive at a state bank. Huarong didn’t immediately reply to questions on its lending practices.

Given Lai’s fate, both people spoke on the condition of anonymity.

Huarong snapped up more than half of the 510 billion yuan in distressed debts disposed of by Chinese banks in 2016. At its peak, Lai’s sprawling empire had almost 200 units at home and abroad. Heboasted in 2017 that Huarong, having reached the Hong Kong stock exchange, would soon go public in mainland China, too.

The IPO never happened. Lai was arrested in 2018 and subsequently confessed to a range of economic crimes in a state TV show. He spoke of trunk-loads of cash being spirited into a Beijing apartment he’d dubbed “the supermarket.” Authorities said they discovered 200 million yuan there. Expensive real estate, luxury watches, art, gold – the list of Lai’s treasure ran on.

This past January, Lai wasfound guilty by the Secondary Intermediate People’s Court in Tianjin of accepting of $277 million in bribes between 2008 and 2018. He was put to death three weeks later – a rare use of capital punishment for economic crimes. Some took the execution as a message from China’s leader, Xi Jinping: my crackdown on corruption will roll on.

At Huarong, the bottom has fallen out. Net income plummeted 95% from 2017 to 2019, to 1.4 billion yuan, and then sank 92% during the first half of 2020. Assets have shriveled by 165 billion yuan.

The company on April 1 announced that it would delay its 2020 results, saying its auditor needed more time. The influential Caixin magazine this week openly speculated about Huarong’s fate, including the possibility of bankruptcy.

According to people familiar with the matter, Huarong has proposed a sweepingrestructuring. The plan would involve offloading its money-losing, non-core businesses. Huarong is still trying to get a handle on what those businesses might be worth. The proposal, which the government would have to approve, helps explain why the company delayed its 2020 results, the people said.

Company executives have been meeting with peers at state banks to assuage their concerns over the past two weeks, a Huarong official said.

The Chinese finance ministry has raised anotherpossibility: transferring its stake in Huarong to a unit of the nation’s sovereign wealth fund that could then sort out the assorted debt problems. Regulators have held several meetings to discuss the company’s plight, according to people familiar with the matter.

In an emailed response to questions from Bloomberg, Huarong said it has “adequate liquidity” and plans to announce the expected date of its 2020 earnings release after consulting with auditors. China’s banking and insurance regulator didn’t immediately respond to a request seeking comment on Huarong’s situation.

Rising Stress

Onshore bond defaults by China’s state firms hit a record in 2020

Source: Fitch Ratings; 2021 data are for the first quarter

One thing is sure: Huarong is part of a much bigger problem in China. State-owned enterprises are shouldering the equivalent of $4.1 trillion in debt, and a growing number of them are struggling to keep current with creditors. In all, SOEs reneged on a record 79.5 billion yuan of local bonds in 2020, lifting their share of onshore payment failures to 57% from just 8.5% a year earlier, according to Fitch Ratings. The figure jumped to 72% in the first quarter of 2021.

The shockwaves from Huarong and these broader debt problems have only begun to reverberate through Chinese finance. Dismantling all or part of Lai’s old empire would show Beijing is willing to accept short-term pain to instill financial discipline among state-owned enterprises.

The irony is that Huarong was supposed to fix China’s big debt problem, not cause a new one.

“Allowing a state-owned financial institution that undertook the task of resolving troubles of China’s financial system to fail is the worst way to handle risks,” said Feng Jianlin, a Beijing-based chief analyst at research institute FOST. “The authorities must consider the massive risk spillover effects.”

— With assistance by Charlie Zhu, Jun Luo, Zheng Li, Dingmin Zhang, Evelyn Yu, Rebecca Choong Wilkins, and Tongjian Dong

Loans Bad Credit Online – China’s Very Bad Bank: Inside the Huarong Debt Debacle

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Loans Bad Credit Online – Federal Student Loans and COVID-19: What You Need to Know | Fintech Zoom

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Loans Bad Credit Online – Federal Student Loans and COVID-19: What You Need to Know


Credible Rating



Credible lender ratings are evaluated by our editorial team with the help of our loan operations team. The rating criteria for lenders encompass 78 data points spanning interest rates, loan terms, eligibility requirement transparency, repayment options, fees, discounts, customer service, cosigner options, and more. Read our full methodology.

4.54%+N/A10, 15, 20$7,500 up to up to $200,000
(larger balances require special approval)
  • Fixed APR:
    4.54%+
  • Variable APR:
    N/A
  • Min. credit score:
    Does not disclose
  • loan amount:
    $7,500 up to $500,000
  • loan terms (years):
    10, 15, 20
  • Max. undergraduate loan balance:
    $250,000 – $500,000
  • Time to fund:
    4 months
  • Repayment options:
    Immediate repayment, forbearance, loans discharged upon death or disability
  • Fees:
    None
  • Discounts:
    Autopay
  • Eligibility:
    Must be a resident of Kentucky
  • Customer service:
    Phone
  • Soft credit check:
    No
  • Cosigner release:
    After 36 months
  • loan servicer:
    Kentucky Higher Education Student loan Corporation
  • Max. graduate loan balance:
    $250,000 – $500,000
  • Credible Review:
    Advantage Education loan review
  • Offers Parent PLUS Refinancing :
    Yes


Credible Rating



Credible lender ratings are evaluated by our editorial team with the help of our loan operations team. The rating criteria for lenders encompass 78 data points spanning interest rates, loan terms, eligibility requirement transparency, repayment options, fees, discounts, customer service, cosigner options, and more. Read our full methodology.

2.95%+1.89%+5, 7, 10, 15, 20$10,000 up to $250,000
(depending on degree)
  • Fixed APR:
    2.95%+
  • Variable APR:
    N/A
  • Min. credit score:
    Does not disclose
  • loan amount:
    $10,000 to $400,000
  • loan terms (years):
    5, 7, 10, 15, 20
  • Repayment options:
    Military deferment, forbearance
  • Fees:
    Late fee
  • Discounts:
    Autopay
  • Eligibility:
    Must have a credit score of at least 720, a minimum income of $60,000, and must be a resident of Texas
  • Customer service:
    Email, phone
  • Soft credit check:
    Does not disclose
  • Cosigner release:
    No
  • loan servicer:
    Firstmark Services
  • Max. Undergraduate loan Balance:
    $100,000 – $149,000
  • Max. Graduate loan Balance:
    $200,000 – $400,000
  • Offers Parent PLUS Refinancing:
    Does not disclose


Credible Rating



Credible lender ratings are evaluated by our editorial team with the help of our loan operations team. The rating criteria for lenders encompass 78 data points spanning interest rates, loan terms, eligibility requirement transparency, repayment options, fees, discounts, customer service, cosigner options, and more. Read our full methodology.

2.97%+¹2.24%+¹5, 7, 10, 15, 20$10,000 to $500,000
(depending on degree and loan type)
  • Fixed APR:
    2.97%+¹
  • Variable APR:
    2.24%+¹
  • Min. credit score:
    Does not disclose
  • loan amount:
    $10,000 to $750,000
  • loan terms (years):
    5, 7, 10, 15, 20
  • Repayment options:
    Immediate repayment, academic deferment, military deferment, forbearance, loans discharged upon death or disability
  • Fees:
    Late fee
  • Discounts:
    Autopay, loyalty
  • Eligibility:
    Must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident and have at least $10,000 in student loans
  • Customer service:
    Email, phone, chat
  • Soft credit check:
    Yes
  • Cosigner release:
    After 24 to 36 months
  • loan servicer:
    Firstmark Services
  • Max. Undergraduate loan Balance:
    $100,000 to $149,000
  • Max. Graduate loan Balance:
    Less than $150,000
  • Offers Parent PLUS Refinancing:
    Yes


Credible Rating



Credible lender ratings are evaluated by our editorial team with the help of our loan operations team. The rating criteria for lenders encompass 78 data points spanning interest rates, loan terms, eligibility requirement transparency, repayment options, fees, discounts, customer service, cosigner options, and more. Read our full methodology.

3.34%+23.24%+25, 7, 10, 12, 15, 20$5,000 to $300,000
(depending on degree type)
  • Fixed APR:
    3.34%+2
  • Variable APR:
    3.24%+2
  • Min. credit score:
    Does not disclose
  • loan amount:
    $5,000 to $300,000
  • loan terms (years):
    5, 7, 10, 12, 15, 20
  • Repayment options:
    Military deferment, forbearance, loans discharged upon death or disability
  • Fees:
    Late fee
  • Discounts:
    Autopay
  • Eligibility:
    All states except for ME
  • Customer service:
    Email, phone, chat
  • Soft credit check:
    Yes
  • Cosigner release:
    After 24 to 36 months
  • loan servicer:
    College Ave Servicing LLC
  • Max. Undergraduate loan Balance:
    $100,000 to $149,000
  • Max. Graduate loan Balance:
    Less than $300,000
  • Offers Parent PLUS Refinancing:
    Yes


Credible Rating



Credible lender ratings are evaluated by our editorial team with the help of our loan operations team. The rating criteria for lenders encompass 78 data points spanning interest rates, loan terms, eligibility requirement transparency, repayment options, fees, discounts, customer service, cosigner options, and more. Read our full methodology.

4.41%+52.03%+510, 15, 20$7,500 to $200,000
  • Fixed APR:
    4.41%+5
  • Variable APR:
    2.03%+5
  • Min. credit score:
    700
  • loan amount:
    $7,500 to $200,000
  • loan terms (years):
    10, 15, 20
  • Repayment options:
    Immediate repayment, academic deferment, forbearance, loans discharged upon death or disability
  • Fees:
    None
  • Discounts:
    Autopay
  • Eligibility:
    Must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident and submit two personal references
  • Customer service:
    Email, phone
  • Soft credit check:
    Yes
  • Cosigner release:
    After 36 months
  • loan servicer:
    Granite State Management & Resources (GSM&R)
  • Max. Undergraduate loan Balance:
    $150,000 to $249,000
  • Max. Graduate loan Balance:
    $150,000 to $199,000
  • Offers Parent PLUS Refinancing :
    Yes


Credible Rating



Credible lender ratings are evaluated by our editorial team with the help of our loan operations team. The rating criteria for lenders encompass 78 data points spanning interest rates, loan terms, eligibility requirement transparency, repayment options, fees, discounts, customer service, cosigner options, and more. Read our full methodology.

2.79%+32.39%+35, 7, 10, 12, 15, 20Minimum of $15,000
  • Fixed APR:
    2.79%+3
  • Variable APR:
    2.39%+3
  • Min. credit score:
    680
  • loan amount:
    No maximum
  • loan terms (years):
    5, 7, 10, 12, 15, 20
  • Repayment options:
    Forbearance
  • Fees:
    None
  • Discounts:
    None
  • Eligibility:
    Must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident, have at least $15,000 in student loan debt, and have a bachelor’s degree or higher from an approved school
  • Customer service:
    Email, phone
  • Soft credit check:
    Yes
  • Cosigner release:
    No
  • loan servicer:
    Mohela
  • Max. Undergraduate loan Balance:
    No maximum
  • Max. Graduate loan Balance:
    No maximum
  • Offers Parent PLUS Refinancing:
    Yes


Credible Rating



Credible lender ratings are evaluated by our editorial team with the help of our loan operations team. The rating criteria for lenders encompass 78 data points spanning interest rates, loan terms, eligibility requirement transparency, repayment options, fees, discounts, customer service, cosigner options, and more. Read our full methodology.

3.47%+42.47%+45, 10, 15, 20$5,000 – $250,000
  • Fixed APR:
    3.47%+4
  • Variable APR:
    2.47%+4
  • Min. credit score:
    670
  • loan amount:
    $5,000 to $250,000
  • loan terms (years):
    5, 10, 15, 20
  • Repayment options:
    Academic deferment, military deferment, forbearance
  • Fees:
    Late fee
  • Discounts:
    Autopay
  • Eligibility:
    Must be U.S. citizen or permanent resident
  • Customer service:
    Email, phone, chat
  • Soft credit check:
    Yes
  • Cosigner release:
    Yes
  • Max undergraduate loan balance:
    $250,000
  • Max graduate loan balance:
    $250,000
  • Offers Parent PLUS refinancing:
    Yes


Credible Rating



Credible lender ratings are evaluated by our editorial team with the help of our loan operations team. The rating criteria for lenders encompass 78 data points spanning interest rates, loan terms, eligibility requirement transparency, repayment options, fees, discounts, customer service, cosigner options, and more. Read our full methodology.

3.05%+3.05%+7, 10, 15$10,000 up to the total amount of qualified education debt
  • Fixed APR:
    3.05%+
  • Variable APR:
    3.05%+
  • Min. credit score:
    670
  • loan amount:
    $10,000 up to the total amount
  • loan terms (years):
    7, 10, 15
  • Repayment options:
    Military deferment, loans discharged upon death or disability
  • Fees:
    None
  • Discounts:
    None
  • Eligibility:
    Must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident and have at least $10,000 in student loans
  • Customer service:
    Email, phone
  • Soft credit check:
    Yes
  • Cosigner release:
    No
  • loan servicer:
    AES
  • Max. Undergraduate loan Balance:
    No maximum
  • Max. Gradaute loan Balance:
    No maximum
  • Offers Parent PLUS Refinancing:
    Yes


Credible Rating



Credible lender ratings are evaluated by our editorial team with the help of our loan operations team. The rating criteria for lenders encompass 78 data points spanning interest rates, loan terms, eligibility requirement transparency, repayment options, fees, discounts, customer service, cosigner options, and more. Read our full methodology.

2.99%+2.15%+5, 8, 12, 15$7,500 to $300,000
  • Fixed APR:
    2.99%+
  • Variable APR:
    2.15%+
  • Min. credit score:
    670
  • loan amount:
    $7,500 to $300,000
  • loan terms (years):
    5, 8, 12, 15
  • Repayment options:
    Does not disclose
  • Fees:
    None
  • Discounts:
    None
  • Eligibility:
    Must be a U.S. citizen and have and at least $7,500 in student loans
  • Customer service:
    Email, phone, chat
  • Soft credit check:
    Yes
  • Cosigner release:
    After 12 months
  • loan servicer:
    PenFed
  • Max. Undergraduate loan Balance:
    $300,000
  • Max. Graduate loan Balance:
    $300,000
  • Offers Parent PLUS Refinancing:
    Yes


Credible Rating



Credible lender ratings are evaluated by our editorial team with the help of our loan operations team. The rating criteria for lenders encompass 78 data points spanning interest rates, loan terms, eligibility requirement transparency, repayment options, fees, discounts, customer service, cosigner options, and more. Read our full methodology.

3.19%+N/A5, 10, 15$7,500 up to $250,000
(depending on highest degree earned)
  • Fixed APR:
    3.19%+
  • Variable APR:
    N/A
  • Min. credit score:
    680
  • loan amount:
    $7,500 to $250,000
  • loan terms (years):
    5, 10, 15
  • Repayment options:
    Academic deferment, military deferment, forbearance, loans discharged upon death or disability
  • Fees:
    None
  • Discounts:
    Autopay
  • Eligibility:
    Available in all 50 states; must also have at least $7,500 in student loans and a minimum income of $40,000
  • Customer service:
    Email, phone
  • Soft credit check:
    Does not disclose
  • Cosigner release:
    No
  • loan servicer:
    Rhode Island Student loan Authority
  • Max. Undergraduate loan Balance:
    $150,000 – $249,000
  • Max. Graduate loan Balance:
    $200,000 – $249,000
  • Offers Parent PLUS Refinancing:
    Yes


Credible Rating



Credible lender ratings are evaluated by our editorial team with the help of our loan operations team. The rating criteria for lenders encompass 78 data points spanning interest rates, loan terms, eligibility requirement transparency, repayment options, fees, discounts, customer service, cosigner options, and more. Read our full methodology.

2.99%+62.85%+65, 7, 10, 15, 20$5,000 up to the full balance of your qualified education loans
  • Fixed APR:
    2.99%+6
  • Variable APR:
    2.85%+6
  • Min. credit score:
    Does not disclose
  • loan amount:
    $5,000 up to the full balance
  • loan terms (years):
    5, 7, 10, 15, 20
  • Repayment options:
    Academic deferment, military deferment
  • Fees:
    None
  • Discounts:
    Autopay, loyalty
  • Eligibility:
    Available in all 50 states
  • Customer service:
    Email, phone, chat
  • Soft credit check:
    Yes
  • Cosigner release:
    No
  • Max undergraduate loan balance:
    No maximum
  • Max graduate loan balance:
    No maximum
  • Offers Parent PLUS refinancing:
    Yes
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All APRs reflect autopay and loyalty discounts where available | 1Citizens Disclosures | 2College Ave Disclosures | 3 ELFI Disclosures | 4INvestEd Disclosures | 5Iowa Student loan Disclosures | 6SoFi Disclosures

Loans Bad Credit Online – Federal Student Loans and COVID-19: What You Need to Know

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Bad Credit

Tips on how to boost a bad credit rating

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HOLLAND, Mich. — Your credit score is just a number, but it can make a difference in your ability to get a loan, house, or even a job, and after a tough year for finances, now is an important time to pay attention to your score.

“You need to have options, and you need to be able to have access, and all of that boils right back down to your credit score,” says Bree Austin-Roberts, a credit expert and founder of Lakeshore Credit Management and Repair Services in Holland. “I think it was a reality check for a lot of people to saying, ‘Hey, it’s time for me to start thinking about my financial situation.’”

Bree’s story is similar to so many of her clients. A few years ago, before she founded her credit repair business, she and her family were evicted from their apartment. Searching for a house and facing homelessness, Bree noticed a similar roadblock everywhere she looked.

“The credit became a problem,” she said. “It always boiled back down to the credit.”

Bree buckled down on payments and, in no time, had raised her credit score enough to move her family into a home and start up her business. Now helping others achieve the same success, Bree says a few simple adjustments can make a big difference. Her first call was to the three major credit bureaus to check the accuracy of her score.

“Like 80 percent of people in the United States have something that’s inaccurate on their credit report, but a lot of people don’t know because they don’t monitor their credit.”

So start by checking with TransUnion, Equifax and Experian on the accuracy of your score.

If you’re having a tough time making payments this year on bills or installment loans (which Bree says you should always have at least one of them), try contacting your creditors to see if they can delay payments or work out some payment plan that works for you.

“Directly related to the pandemic, a lot of lenders are being very lenient,” said Bree.

In addition to making all your monthly credit card payments on time when you can, Bree says it also matters how often you use your credit card and on what. She says most repair experts recommend keeping your card usage below 30 percent, but Bree recommends a lower limit for her clients.

“When you’re in the building process, you want to keep it 10 percent or below,” she said. “If you’re planning on making a major purchase in like 30 to 60 days, you probably want to keep your credit card balances between 1 and 3 percent.”

Other tips include becoming an authorized user on a loved one’s credit card. If they have good credit, spending responsibly on their account could help boost your score faster. Just have them ask their bank or credit union about adding you as an authorized user.

You can also open a secured card on your own. A secured credit card is essentially a prepaid card that ensures you don’t miss payments.

And remember: no credit doesn’t mean good credit. Lenders want to see you can responsibly handle debt.

“Having something to report is positive, but it’s the amount that reports that shows your creditworthiness,” said Bree.

What it boils down to, Bree says, is having good habits and sticking to them. Building or rebuilding credit is a marathon, not a sprint, and Bree says patience is key.

“I was never always a credit expert. It was trial and error,” she said. “I have been there before, and it doesn’t take much to end up right back there again if you’re not budgeting well–if you do not credit consciously.”

You can reach Bree at [email protected] or on her website or Facebook and use the hashtags #lakeshoreCredit and #CreditQueen to join the conversation with her.

Doug Reardon at WXMI first reported this story.



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